So here I am, an Android phone in one hand and an iPad in the other. My trusty Nexus 5X is by my side most of the day, but occasionally I set it aside for a midday charge, leaving me with nothing but my iPad to work with.
The only problem with that setup is when my 5X is elsewhere, my iPad has no way of warning me about incoming calls and texts on my Android device. If only there were a way for iOS to receive Android notifications….
Well, there is, actually, but it takes a bit of work. With the help of a clever app that lets you create your own “applets,” your iOS device can alert you about texts, calls, and a few other events on your absent Android handset. Here’s the trick.
First, you’re going to need a specific app on both your Android phone and your iOS device (or devices). The app is called IFTTT, short for “If This, Then That.”
If you’re not already familiar with IFTTT, here’s the gist: With a wide-ranging menu of “triggers” and actions, you can create mini apps—or “applets,” as IFTTT calls them—that perform tasks under a particular set of circumstances.
For example, you could create an applet that unmutes your Android phone the moment you arrive home, another that sends you an email if there’s rain in the forecast, and yet another that tweets out any links you post to Facebook.
Creating an IFTTT applet is simple: You simply pick a trigger, or an “if this,” then pick a “then that” action.
Now, one of the available triggers for IFTTT is for an incoming Android SMS message, while one of the actions is for the IFTTT app to fire off a customizable Android or iOS notification.
So here’s what our IFTTT applet is going to do: When an Android text message arrives, it’ll pop up an IFTTT notification on all our IFTTT-connected devices, including any iPhones or iPads.
Note: Unfortunately, there’s no trigger for the iOS Messages app, meaning you can’t use IFTTT to mirror iOS iMessage or SMS alerts on your Android handset.
Building an applet
Our first step is to install IFTTT on our Android and iOS handsets. If you haven’t already, you’ll need to create an IFTTT account and log in on each of your devices—annoying, yes, but once that’s done, any IFTTT apps we create will appear automatically across all our IFTTT-connected gadgets.
Once you’re logged in, open the IFTTT app on your favorite device or in a desktop browser, tap (or click) the My Applets tab, then tap the “+” or New Applet button.
Next, you’ll land on the Applet Maker screen, where you’ll see four big words: If, This, Then, and That, with the word “This” highlighted in blue with a big “+” sign next to it. Go ahead and tap This.
You’ll now see a big menu of multicolored tiles, each representing a trigger for your new applet. In the search box at the top, type in Android for a list of all the available Android triggers, one of which will be Android SMS. Tap it to open the trigger, then pick one of the available conditions; for this particular applet, I chose Any new SMS received. (Among the other options for the Android SMS trigger: Any new SMS sent, New SMS received matches search, and New SMS received from phone number.)
Once you tap that option, you’ll return to the ”If This Then That” screen. This time, the word “That” will be highlighted. Tap That, then tap an action—in this case, Notifications.
For this action, only one option exists: Send a notification. Tap it, then tap the checkmark next to Complete action to finalize your applet.
Bonus tip: Now that you’ve built your first IFTTT applet, try creating some more. For example, you can use the Android Phone trigger to fire off an iOS alert whenever you miss a call on your Android device, or to get a notification when your Android phone leaves or arrives at a certain location. There are also plenty of prebuilt applets to choose from.
Your Android SMS alerts, delivered on iOS
Your new applet will now be active across the IFTTT apps on your various devices; just make sure you have notifications enabled for IFTTT on iOS (Settings > Notifications > IFTTT).
All set? The next time you receive an SMS on your Android phone, you’ll get an iOS IFTTT alert with the message text and sender included.
If you wish, you can even customize the alert text by tapping the My Applets tab, tap the applet, tap the Settings button (the one that looks like a gear), then edit the text under the Notification heading.
Note: Did your IFTTT text alerts stop appearing? It could be because Android’s “battery optimization” feature has put the IFTTT app to sleep. To make sure IFTTT is awake and alert at all times, tap Settings > Battery, tap the three-dot menu button in the top corner of the screen, tap Battery optimization, make sure All apps is selected in the top pull-down menu, scroll down and tap the IFTTT entry, then switch its setting to Don’t optimize. Choosing this setting may mean that the IFTTT app will consume more power, but at least you won’t miss any text messages.
Bonus tip: If you want to send Android SMS messages via your iOS device, try MightyText. While there isn’t an iOS version of the MightyText app, there’s a MightyText web app that works reasonably well in Safari and Chrome for iOS.
Ben has been writing about technology and consumer electronics for more than 20 years. A PCWorld contributor since 2014, Ben joined TechHive in 2019, where he covers smart speakers, soundbars, and other smart and home-theater devices. You can follow Ben on Twitter.